You know what they say, if you can’t do, teach. Well – I’ve never been a creator – at least not with my hands – so artists have always fascinated me. Where do they find their inspiration? How do they transform their ideas from simple thoughts into tangible works of art? How do you even pick a medium??
Thankfully, over the years I’ve met many an artist through this whole blogging gig and I’m lucky enough to call some friends. You’ve met amazing people like Windy Chien and Rebecca Atwood on this site. Today, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Tina Frey Designs. Her new San Francisco studio is officially my new happy place.
Tina Frey Designs is known for its brilliantly simple and modern designs in resin, but her expansive new studio in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood had me at hello. Featuring Tina Frey Designs, along with vintage finds personally curated by Tina, the studio encompasses a retail showroom, shop, Tina’s personal studio where she hand-sculpts each piece, and a warming hut where Tina’s team puts the final touches on each and every piece before they ship.
Housed in a gallery-like space that doubles as the company’s headquarters, the space’s interior offers a deceptively simplistic and modern design with clean white walls, lightly-toned wooden furnishing, and pops of color that are seamlessly complemented by subtle greenery and artful florals. Newly installed skylights allow for ample natural light.
Tina is genius that she creates pieces intended for every day use – serving pieces, cups, bowls, champagne buckets, troughs and trays but something about the material she works in – resin – and the unique matte finish give them a luxe feel. Many of Tina’s products serve as statement pieces in the studio just as they would in your home.
In addition to being a retail showroom, the atelier’s upper level serves as Tina’s quaint work area. The “mezzanine creative space,” as she affectionately calls it, is an open-layout studio for bringing Tina’s colorful ideas to life. Each product is personally handcrafted by Tina – beginning with a clay mold that is sculpted into a unique design, then cast into a one-of-a-kind resin vessel specialized by color, before being hand-sanded to completion in the warming hut, sequestered in a corner of the studio.
I’ve loved Tina’s work for such a long time – so I’m thrilled I recently got to sit down and pick Tina’s brain about how she made the move from finance(!) into working as a full time artist whose work is sold all over the world, is in Moma and featured in Michelin-starred restaurants. Goalz. Read on to get
What was your path to becoming an artist/designer?
I have been doing creative things my whole life and this always came very naturally for me. However, I came from an unconventional background since I studied biology and chemistry, and followed by a business degree in accounting/finance before switching careers. I am mainly self-taught. Although I had art and art history classes in school, I never seriously pursued it as a profession initially since I thought my profession had to be hard and challenging. At some point in my career, I felt that I needed to pursue my passion for creativity. That was 11 years ago now and I have been following my dreams since.
You have such a strong and recognizable look. How did you hone your aesthetic?
The look came about spontaneously. I love making things that are functional with the imperfect wabi-sabi nature. I also like simplicity and minimalism. I like to sculpt the pieces initially in clay and this worked well in translating the aesthetic to the final products which is in resin, and also some designs in metal. I like the resin material since it is rather unexpected and can take on a different look, depending on whether it is cast in a solid color, a translucent color, or make colorful. I like the idea of pieces being functional, yet decorative, whether they are placed in a grouping, or by themselves. I try to stay true to this philosophy when creating the pieces.
What has been the hardest thing about growing your brand/business?
I went into this without a much initial planning about the brand or the business. When I started out, I was learning so much as I went along. You don’t really realize how much is involved until you are really into it and how much work it is. Much of it is just rolling up your sleeves and wearing many hats while trying to grow the business.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
I have always loved travel and find seeing new places, cultures, people, architecture, design, and nature so inspiring. There is inspiration wherever you look.
Where do you turn for mentorship?
Since starting, I have discovered there are so many like-minded people who also started their own creative companies and it is a great network of supportive people and camaraderie and this has been the most fun and rewarding! We encounter similar challenges along the way and it is a great way to share our experiences and support each other in the process. They are all my mentor along the way.
What would you tell your 25-year-old self?
Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams and think outside the box.
What piece of advice would you offer to other aspiring artists/designers/creatives?
Be prepared for hard work and perseverance. Always be creative with your own ideas, make good quality products, have great communication, and timely delivery to your customers, and you will be fine.
Tina explained that her intention is for her new studio to become a San Francisco destination where designers and design-lovers can experience and shop her pieces in person while discovering an ever-evolving collection of unique works by talented new and established makers. Well, I’m sold. You’re going to find me at her space on the regular.
If you’re in San Francisco, Tina Frey Designs’ new studio is located at 1485 Bancroft Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124, and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more and shop Tina Frey Designs, visit www.tinafreydesigns.com and follow along @tinafreydesigns.
To meet more inspiring designers and makers CLICK HERE.
original photography for apartment 34 by andrea posadas creative